LePage Reneges on $100M Statewide Maine Jobs Bond Contracts, Day 3: MaineDOT Projects in Peril?

Posted Monday, February 24, 2014 in News

LePage Reneges on $100M Statewide Maine Jobs Bond Contracts, Day 3: MaineDOT Projects in Peril?

by Andi Parkinson

We are giving Governor LePage a pass on the “Day Count” for Saturday and Sunday, as he was down in DC for the NGA winter meeting… well, until yesterday morning at least.

Feb. 22—Maine Governor Paul LePage and Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant at the Homeland Security & Public Safety Committee session, which was about the future of the National Guard.

Feb. 22—Maine Governor Paul LePage and Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant at the Homeland Security & Public Safety Committee session, which was about the future of the National Guard (photo via NGA).

He inexplicably skipped last night’s dinner with President and Mrs. Obama at the White House, as well as multiple meetings today with the President and Vice-President Biden.

Hey, waitaminute… Anyone else remember when LePage pulled out of NGA?

LePage said he will attend the winter meeting, held in Washington, D.C., because of its sessions with President Barack Obama and cabinet members. But he said he has no use for the other meetings held by the group.

“I get no value out of those meetings,” he said. “They are too politically correct and everybody is lovey-dovey and no decisions are ever made. There are some tough decisions that need to be made in this country and we need to start making them.”

(If anyone can make sense of his thought processes, oh do please- let the rest of Maine in on the trick…)

Fortunately, the Kennebec Journal helpfully shared this (Governors: ‘ObamaCare here to stay’) for LePage, so he can be up to speed on what he missed and via AP, gave Maine a shout-out:

…governors from both parties report that a full repeal of the law (ACA) would be complicated at best, if not impossible, as states move forward with implementation and begin covering millions of people – both by expanding Medicaid rolls for lower-income resident or through state or federal exchanges that offer federal subsidies to those who qualify. 

A recent Associated Press analysis of the sign-ups found that six Republican-led states –Florida, Idaho, Maine, Michigan, North Carolina, and Wisconsin – were on pace or better than the states had initially projected.

Oh dear.

Onward to Day Three!

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Last August, Maine Governor Paul LePage recorded a video, urging support for a $100 million transportation bond as a means of “supporting economic development and jobs”.

 

It was a politically motivated plea sent out directly at the public for a solitary transportation bond to be put on the November ballot. He also called for a special session and once the dust settled on that special session called for by the Governor, there was agreement on a slew of bonds to go before voters.

Four in particular are of interest, as they related directly to bonds for higher education and transportation:

Voters in November passed all four of the above bonds by wide margins and as the Secretary of State’s office“Citizen’s Guide 2013″ points out, all passed measures go into effect 30 days after the election results are certified.

  • Governor Paul LePage and MDOT Commissioner David Bernhardt release 3 year statewide Work Plan in North Augusta.

    Governor Paul LePage and MDOT Commissioner David Bernhardt release 3 year statewide Work Plan in North Augusta.

    On January 13, Maine media was advised by Maine DOT press secretary Ted Talbot that there would be a press conference rolling out an ambitious statewide transportation plan the following day. Inside a North Augusta MaineDOT garage, Governor Paul LePage, Senator Ron Collins (R-York), MaineDOT Commissioner David Bernhardt and others gathered as LePage and Bernhardt released MDOT’s statewide 3 year, $2B work plan: 

    The Maine DOT’s “Three Year Work Plan” will use $100 million in state transportation bonds – approved last November by voters – and federal highway funds to pay for more than 1,600 projects from now until 2016 in all 16 of the state’s counties.

    In 2014, a total of 425 projects are scheduled at a cost of $455 million.

    “The work plan represents more than a listing of projects,” LePage said during a news conference in Augusta. “Our transportation infrastructure is the backbone that delivers economic opportunities and good-paying jobs to Maine. That’s why I will continue to support the Maine DOT’s innovative efforts to upgrade our transportation system and to keep stretching that buck.”

    The governor commented that this was a non-partisan effort:

    “The bond package was approved by about 70 percent of the voters in Maine. So it was a non-partisan effort,” LePage said. “Everybody worked together on it.”

    (Plan pdf link here)

    As there was quite a bit of ongoing bickering over the budget, revenue sharing, the infamous Alexander Report and Medicaid expansion a few miles away at the State House, media questioned the Governor after the presentation about those topics instead of the MDOT work plan.

    LePage minced no words as he attacked Democratic lawmakers:

     

    “The boogey man in the room…”

    “It’s just the opposite of what the opponents say. Let me tell you something… I hear, Mark Eves says… (unintelligible) “tea party guy”… it takes one to know one. When I was a Democrat… I was a Democrat- until- I learned how to count. You see that? I learned to count; I became a Republican. Because they’re giving you smoke and mirrors. They gave us smoke and mirrors in 2002 and they’re doing it again today.

    Let me tell you something else that you don’t… Democrats… there’s going to be several nursing homes closing, because they’re not covered. And we have the waiting list, that’s not covered. So all of these things that they … Democrats say are gonna happen are wrong. They’re simply wrong.”

    … and that he has “no power” with this legislature, among other claims.

     

    “I have no power when it comes to this legislature. They do what they damn well please.”

    So at no time in January did the Governor publicly threaten to renege on the transportation bond. In fact, on the following day (January 15), his weekly address stressed that “Maine has an obligation to help our most vulnerable and pay its bills”.

    At the time of the work plan roll out, Associated General Contractors of Maine executive director Matt Marks was quoted by MPBN:

    The work will provide badly needed jobs in Maine’s construction sector, where as recently as early last year, says Matt Marks, unemployment topped 26 percent. Marks is executive director of Associated General Contractors of Maine.

    “Last year, I worried about the talented constructors who would leave Maine for jobs in other states,”
     he said. But Marks says unemployment among his membership has now dropped to 16 percent, a downward trend he expects will continue, as the 2014 transportation projects get under way this spring.

    The Transportation Department says it’s confident it will secure the state and federal funds it will need to complete the more than 1,000 projects scheduled for 2015 and 2016.

    Here is the list of contracts awarded so far, updated as late as February 14. It will be interesting to see how they react to news of the Governor’s refusal to honor the state’s signed contracts and whether the work already scheduled will be able to continue.

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    *RELATED:

    1. BREAKING: Governor LePage Reneges on $100M Jobs Bonds; Bounces $59M State of Maine Check
    2. LePage Reneges on $100M Statewide Maine Jobs Bond Contracts, Day 2
    3. (Aug 2013 Review) Governor LePage (Video): Support of the Transportation Bond Supports Economic Stability and Jobs

     

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